More than a dozen senior and long-standing staff members at the University of Winnipeg have quit or left their posts since a new president was appointed to oversee the downtown campus in April 2022.

The university’s faculty association is categorizing the situation as “inordinate,” citing 16 noteworthy departures — 13 of which are women — over the last 18 months.

On Monday, the union representing roughly 600 academics sent a letter to request U of W leaders consider the recent turnover rate and its implications.

“We write now because of our deep concern with this trend, and the real impact of these departures, both on the ability of the university to operate now, and to continue to succeed at the high level of the last decade over the coming years,” states the letter signed by UWFA president Peter Miller and the rest of the association’s executive council.

The union leaders acknowledged it is unusual for them to write such a memo to the board of regents, a governing group tasked with setting policies and overarching goals for the university, in the three-page letter.

Among the high-profile exits include the former associate vice-president of external relations, associate-vice president of Indigenous engagement, comptroller and acting vice-president of finance and administration, interim provost and vice-president of academics, and associate vice-president of human resources.

Chris Minaker, Jennefer Nepinak, Julia Peemoeller, Jan Stewart and Marni Yasumatsu made their respective exits in May 2022, June 2022, January 2023, March 2023, and June 2023.

Notable staffing changes have also happened in U of W’s payroll services, institutional analysis unit, senior labour relations office, marketing department, research office and finance and administration branch over the last 1 1/2 years.

“UWFA council members cannot recall a time when so many senior administrators left in the middle of appointments, often with little or no notice,” academics wrote in their July 10 letter.

While noting employment changes are expected — “especially in a time of economic and societal uncertainty,” the letter suggests significant turnover among senior positions during such a short period of time is unprecedented.

The loss of human resources and subsequent institutional memory is “enormous,” it states.

The faculty association asked the board if exit interviews have taken place, a plan is in place to address the human resources issue at hand, and there is reason to be concerned an overwhelming majority of employees who have been part of the exodus are women.

U of W announced the appointment of its 10th president and vice-chancellor in November 2021.

Todd Mondor, who spent more than two decades in various academic and administrative roles at the University of Manitoba, officially took the role in April 2022.

Pam Trupish left U of M to join the neighbouring institution and serve as executive director of the president’s office.

Multiple sources who experienced the transition said a shift to a top-down leadership approach has proven challenging for many.

“There was a lack of respect for our expertise and a sense that they knew better because they were coming in (from the U of M),” said one former employee, who recently left U of W and agreed to an interview on the condition of anonymity.

Mondor described his leadership style as “very consultative” in an interview with the Free Press shortly after his presidential appointment was announced.

“In my view, the only really successful vision is one that’s shared,” he said at the time.

The office of the U of W president did not provide comment Tuesday.

Twitter: @macintoshmaggie

By Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 11, 2023 at 18:19

This item reprinted with permission from   Free Press   Winnipeg, Manitoba
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